J.B. Pritzker Column

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker talks to Eric Peterson, of Manteno, on Tuesday morning during Chicago Bears Training Camp at Olivet Nazarene University.

The other day, we posted to Facebook a story and photo of Gov. J.B. Pritzker during his visit to the Chicago Bears Training Camp in Bourbonnais. And then the venom poured.

Nearly a fifth of the 250 comments were insults about the governor’s weight. In return, a handful commented on Trump’s.

I get that it’s Facebook, and anything goes. But when people make fun of someone for their weight, I think, “What jerks!” And I can’t help but wonder, “Do the insulters think they are so perfect?”

If they want to gain converts to their cause, they should express their differences regarding policies. Potshots turn off a lot of people, including me.

One Facebook commenter took the shamers to task: “The amount of hate speech about the governor’s weight is shameful. Every person who chose to attack him by commenting about it should be apologizing to anyone they encounter for being a bad person. Bullying wasn’t okay in kindergarten, it’s still not okay as an adult.”

A woman responded, “I’m sure you are one of those who voted him in. Thanks for helping him to continue to destroy this state and send people running for their lives to another state.”

The woman missed the point: It’s not right to shame people for their weight, whether it’s Pritzker, Trump or anyone else.

OPEN WITH PUBLIC?

In her monthly video, Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said she believes she is the most transparent mayor in the area.

Among other things, she pointed to the fact the city started livestreaming its meetings after she became mayor. She also noted she holds monthly Mingle with the Mayor events on one Saturday per month at local restaurants, where she takes time to speak with residents individually.

This is all good. I especially like the videos of City Council meetings (Note to aldermen: Make sure your mics are on.)

But there are other ways the city can be open. For instance, it could comply with the state’s open records law, formally known as the Freedom of Information Act.

Since last fall, we have filed three complaints with the attorney general regarding the city’s failure to provide public records. In the first two cases, the city reversed itself immediately. In the latest instance, we sought a police officer’s grievance against the city and were denied. We’ve been advised by the Illinois Press Association’s lawyer this is a public record; the city is poised to respond by next week.

In another case, the city denied a request to see grand jury subpoenas related to Richard Simms, the city’s former utilities superintendent. We emailed the city our arguments about why the subpoenas are public records, prompting the city to provide the documents after all. No need to go to the attorney general.

The mayor said she always follows the advice of the city’s suburban law firm, Odelson & Sterk. It seems the firm has provided bad advice, given its repeated reversals.

The apparent strategy is to deny releasing records until requesters push back.

At the newspaper, we follow up when the city gives flimsy excuses for secrecy. The average citizen often does not have that advantage.

If the mayor worked to reverse this trend of records denials, she might come closer to being the most transparent mayor in the area.

NUMBERS ONLINE

Speaking of openness, the Kankakee County Health Department should be recognized.

On its website, the agency lists the work cellphones for its top four officials, including Administrator John Bevis. It’s rare government officials include such information online.

Kankakee County Board members also include their numbers on the county website. Many of them are cellphones, including Chairman Andy Wheeler’s.

That’s an example for other government leaders to follow.

David Giuliani is a reporter for the Daily Journal. His weekly column “As It Is” expands upon regular news coverage by adding his insight and ideas. He can be reached at 815-802-5144 or dgiuliani@daily-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TDJ_dgiuliani. 

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